The Essentials

Tribute to My Wife.

Where do I begin? It is a rare thing to find in another person all the qualities of a good human being. The beauty of love is that it comes with serendipity and surprise.

I met Olivia at a time when we had both experienced freshly the sting of love unrequited. We proceeded cautiously, but kept our hearts reluctantly open to each other.

In the short time we have been together, we have traveled the world, experienced life changing adventure, and accomplished a few of our dream humanitarian goals. We have endured and survived a global pandemic together and in good fashion, while helping our families and neighbors get through.

The beauty I see in Olivia cannot be expressed adequately in this short post, but I will recall a moment that happened during our visit to the orphanage in Cam Ranh that solidified my love for this woman:

The nun who was charged with giving a tour of the facilities, hesitantly lead us to a separate ward away from the children, where several homeless and disabled adults were housed. In the first room lay a disabled young man whose body was obviously broken and mangled. The sight of a man in such dire condition made me uneasy with pity and shock.

I turned off my camera out of respect for his dignity. The nuns told me that, as a young child, he had been thrown against a wall by an abusive parent and then was abandoned. The capacity for human cruelty is deep and dark. He had no ability to speak or move his body, but in his eyes, I still saw the human being trapped inside that broken shell. It moved me tremendously.

Without a second of pause, I watched my Olivia stoop down and tenderly caress this man on his head. She gave him the simple gift of a touch and acknowledgement. I watched his eyes. At first, they were confused. Then I saw a moment of relief in them. We all stood in silence; witnesses to the power of the human touch. There were no words necessary and to utter them would only tarnish the moment.

The weight of that experience moved me to tears and I knew with certainty that I had found the woman with whom I would happily spend all my days. To find another human being with such compassion and love is a rare gem.

This week, I am happy to be celebrating her first birthday as my wife. I would like everyone to join me in celebrating Olivia. I want to recognize her selflessness and appreciate the humanity she brings into the world with her love. My life and so many others have been made brighter for knowing such a beautiful human being. She makes the world a better place.

- 8 toasts